The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Got some exercise, anyway

After lunch I thought Parker and I could pop around to my second-favorite bar in Chicago, Bucktown Pub, which is about 3 km away. It's a little warm (31°C), so by the time we got there, I was looking forward to cooling off with air conditioning and a gin & tonic.

We left home around 1:15 and got there at 2.

They open at 3.

Oops.

I will now take a shower, and Parker has installed himself directly below the air conditioner.

Andrew Sullivan loses a friend

The journalist and blogger's beagle Daisy died today at the age of 15. I'm getting sniffly just posting this:

This was not like waiting for someone to die; it was a positive act to end a life – out of mercy and kindness, to be sure – but nonetheless a positive act to end a life so intensely dear to me for a decade and a half. That’s still sinking in. The power of it. But as we laid her on the table for the final injection, she appeared as serene as she has ever been. I crouched down to look in her cloudy eyes and talk to her, and suddenly, her little head jolted a little, and it was over.

I couldn’t leave her. But equally the sight of her inert and lifeless – for some reason the tongue hanging far out of her mouth disfigured her for me – was too much to bear. I kissed her and stroked her, buried my face in her shoulders, and Aaron wept over her. And then we walked home, hand in hand. As we reached the front door, we could hear Eddy howling inside.

Her bed is still there; and the bowl; and the diapers – pointless now. I hung her collar up on the wall and looked out at the bay. The room is strange. She has been in it every day for fifteen and a half years, waiting for me.

Now, I wait, emptied, for her.

Read the whole thread. Make sure you have tissue handy.

How much is that doggy in the window?

I love my dogsitters, but sometimes they send the oddest messages. I received this email yesterday morning:

ALL DOGS must wear a collar around their neck with a name tag and contact information on that tag. Harnesses are not what we need, we need to have collars. It's a City Ordinance, like most laws, the City is starting to enforce them and any customer found not with a collar risks a $500 fine for both the customer and facility. We'll be happy to sell Dogs without collars and name tags one and charge your account accordingly. We have several dogs that look alike, 12 black labs in a room gets confusing and we need to make sure we are aware of each dog and correctly identify each of them.

Re-read that penultimate sentence: "We'll be happy to sell Dogs without collars and name tags one and charge your account accordingly."

Seriously, I had to read that three times before I saw the word "one." Good thing Parker has a collar, though; I'd hate him to be sold. (Wait...that's not right either.)

As the joke goes: "I'm a linguist, so I like ambiguity more than most people."

That rug really tied the room together, did it not?

My poor sick dog didn't completely destroy my rugs, but Eli Peer has a job on his hands. Even without the, uh, contributions from Parker last week, the six years of accumulated dog hair mitigated in favor of a good deep cleaning as well. Eli recommends cleaning rugs every couple of years, so mine were long overdue anyway. Judging by the portion covered by the bookshelves in the photo below—a portion without dog hair, dirt, and innumerable other insults—they looked pretty dire. Here's the room in 2008:

Here it is on Saturday:

And in case you don't recognize the line, here's one of its funnier instances.

Was it Ribfest? Rabbit poop? Daycare?

The vet visit went well. Parker has no fever, no giardia or crypto, and probably no really bad diseases. He just has gastroenteritis. Good; I'm glad it's not serious.

But let's examine the damage:

  • Vet bill: $275
  • Rug cleaning estimate: $225
  • Hotel reservation cancelled: $75
  • Billable hours lost: 3

At least I'll have all that extra time to do billable work this weekend, right? Silver linings.

Parker is asleep under my desk now. Tonight he gets boiled chicken. (But how long do I boil it?)

Sick puppy

Poor parker.

I came home yesterday evening to a pile of something on one of my mom's antique rugs. Overnight three more piles appeared, two on that rug and one on a different antique rug. Plus there was another pile from the other end of the dog on a patch of hardwood floor this morning.

He didn't eat dinner last night, and he didn't eat the rice I gave him for breakfast. And on his walk this morning, he created a neon-green patch on the sidewalk that prompted a call to the vet when we got home.

I'm not alarmed—yet—because he's alert and happy to go for walks. I've rolled up the carpets, which apparently will cost $225 to clean professionally, so they're out of danger.

My guess is that he ate something yesterday or Wednesday, so I expect the vet will poke him and take X-rays that show nothing of consequence. This happens to dogs sometimes.

Unfortunately, I had planned to take him on a road trip this weekend to see where he came from. I've traced his origins to three possible places in downstate Illinois, about six hours away. Well, that's off now; no way he'll want to go for a six-hour car ride to a strange place and then sleep on a hotel floor.

I hope he feels better. Poor fuzzy dude.

Ribfest 2013 regurgitation

Oh, yummy ribs. Yesterday, Parker and I hiked up to Lincoln and Damen as planned, and tried out a different set of bone samplers than in years past.

  • Mrs. Murphy's Irish Bistro (pictured above) started the ribanalia, and led the pack—for a moment. Once again, they had fall-off-the-bone, lightly smoked meat with a tangy, spicy sauce. 3½ stars.
  • Second was a newcomer, Wrigley BBQ, which actually surpassed Mrs. Murphy. They had flavorful, smoked meat, with a spicy dry rub, just a hint of a sweet Memphis sauce, and just the right tug off the bone. 4 stars.
  • Corner 41 was good. Not great, but good. They have a smoky, fall-off-the-bone meat, with good spice and flavor, but they get a half-point off for presenting the smallest sampler I've ever encountered at Gibfest. 2½ stars.
  • Uncle Bub's had the longest line at the festival, possibly because they had the largest stall. They had smoky, tug-off-the-bone ribs with a really great crispiness. They also provided branded moist towlettes which, when you think about it, every vendor should hand out. 3 stars.
  • Sadly, last was least: Real Urban BBQ from Highland Park. Their tug-off-the-bone meat tasted almost processed (though I know it wasn't), too chewy and salty, on which they put an indifferent sort of sauce. I'll have to skip them next time. 2 stars.

Over the next few months, I'm going to have proper rib dinners at my five-year favorites: Mrs. Murphy's, Wrigley BBQ, and Smoke Daddy, plus my cousin Matt's favorite Fat Willy's.

Parker, as usual, had less fun at the festival than I did:

Maybe I should have tried this? No; there's no way Parker would stay on the wagon:

As for our traditional stop on the way home, SoPo: it no longer exists; it's boarded up now. Before we discovered that, however, we came upon a new place, A.J. Hudson's. Great beer list, friendly staff, and dogs. New tradition!

Off to Ribfest 2013

I follow few traditions. That said, walking up to Ribfest Chicago on the first weekend of June has become one. In just a little bit, Parker and I will head out into the crystal-clear, 19°C, late-Spring weather, and get us some ribs.

Before we go, a recap. This will be our 5th Ribfest in six years. Before we started our hike I thought it would help me to remember which vendors I've tried in years past:

2012:

2011:

2010: We didn't go to Ribfest because of my sister's wedding. A fair trade, I think.

2009:

2008:

The 5.1 km walk should take us a little over an hour. On the way back I'll probably continue the tradition established in 2008 by grabbing a beer on SoPo's dog-friendly patio. This also helps by stretching the return walk out to 6 km, in order to work off more ribs.

I may not eat more than a few lentils for the next two days, though...